The U.S. Coast Guard has seized 18.5 tons of cocaine valued at $500 million in a series of operations in international waters, officials said Thursday.
In a news release, officials said the drugs were unloaded at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The cocaine was seized from 15 drug-smuggling boats off the coasts of Mexico, Central America and South America with help from other law enforcement agencies. The operation netted 49 arrests, with the suspects to be prosecuted in South Florida.
In recent years, the volume of cocaine smuggled by water has drained the Coast Guard's resources, Capt. Jeffrey Randall told the Miami Herald.
The agency seized 226 tons of cocaine last year and brought in 708 suspects.